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  • Health & Medicine

New study to investigate breast cancer in ethnic minority groups

Jacob Smith
by Jacob Smith | News

11 July 2023

4 comments 4 comments

A woman having a consultation with her doctor
Shutterstock - PeopleImages.com - Yuri A


A new Cancer Research UK-funded study aims to shed light on the variation in breast cancer across different ethnic minority groups. 

Led by Dr Toral Gathani, an academic and consultant cancer surgeon at the University of Oxford, the study will investigate why women from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to get breast cancer, but why it is more likely to be a more aggressive form of the disease when they do. 

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK, but analysis of national data has shown that women from Black Caribbean and Black African backgrounds are significantly more likely to have more advanced disease at diagnosis than White British women. 

This is an important research project with direct public health relevance. If we can establish the barriers people face in accessing healthcare and describe the pattern of risk factors in certain groups, we can hopefully improve cancer outcomes.

- Dr Toral Gathani

 A better understanding

This three-year project will use existing data from large national studies and the National Cancer Registry Service in England to look at breast cancer incidence rates and how breast cancer risk factors such as weight, alcohol intake and reproductive factors, may differ in different ethnic groups. 

This builds on Gathani’s previous research showing that those from certain ethnic minority backgrounds had significantly greater odds of less favourable tumour characteristics compared to White women, and that these differences are more marked in Black compared to Asian groups.* 

The personal and genetic factors which influence breast cancer risk, and type of breast cancer at diagnosis, have not been examined in detail in different ethnic groups; Dr Gathani’s team will investigate the potential for establishing a large-scale study of this kind through surveys and interviews. 

The research will be supported by an ethnically diverse Patient and Public Involvement Panel and a national Ethnicity and Breast Cancer Working Group comprising clinical and academic experts in healthcare and cancer research. 

“Cancer inequalities – unfair, avoidable and systemic differences between population groups – are present at every stage of the cancer experience, including the prevalence of cancer risk factors, screening uptake and barriers to seeking help,” said Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK.

“Women from ethnic minority backgrounds may be less likely to take up invitations for breast screening and women from Black Caribbean and Black African backgrounds are more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage. 

“This study will allow us to further understand some of the reasons behind these differences and help us find new ways to remove barriers and improve breast cancer outcomes for women from ethnic minority communities in the UK.” 

Gathani, T., Reeves, G., Broggio, J. et al. Ethnicity and the tumour characteristics of invasive breast cancer in over 116,500 women in England. Br J Cancer 2021;125, 611–617. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41416-021-01409-7 

    Comments

  • Bettina Wallace
    11 October 2023

    As a Afro Caribbean woman who was diagnosed in December 22 with breast cancer. I am overjoyed to see this research. If women from ethnic minority communities fail to take up invitations for mammograms, it’s not that they don’t care, there could be a variety of factors such as – past experiences of health treatment, fear or lack of understanding of literature which may not be sent to them in their own languages.

    Also health professionals feel that they know what these communities want, without first checking out with them.

  • Sarifa patel
    11 October 2023

    Please include disabled children and adult .we are never visible

  • Pauline Weaver
    15 September 2023

    Really interested in more information regarding Cancer.

  • Josh Scudamore
    11 July 2023

    cancer is not nice to have

    Comments

  • Bettina Wallace
    11 October 2023

    As a Afro Caribbean woman who was diagnosed in December 22 with breast cancer. I am overjoyed to see this research. If women from ethnic minority communities fail to take up invitations for mammograms, it’s not that they don’t care, there could be a variety of factors such as – past experiences of health treatment, fear or lack of understanding of literature which may not be sent to them in their own languages.

    Also health professionals feel that they know what these communities want, without first checking out with them.

  • Sarifa patel
    11 October 2023

    Please include disabled children and adult .we are never visible

  • Pauline Weaver
    15 September 2023

    Really interested in more information regarding Cancer.

  • Josh Scudamore
    11 July 2023

    cancer is not nice to have